Digital storytelling is a new form of literacy

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to lead a workshop for students at Harvard's Kennedy School called Telling Your Story Online: How to Use Digital Media to Deliver a Message That Matters (view my slides). Here are a few highlights:

  1. We're all storytellers — from the president of the United States to a citizen journalist on the other side of the world, to a teen YouTube star or a "mommy blogger" from Peoria.
  2. You're already telling a story— the question is, is it the right one? Silence is a story, too. Claim your platform and use it well, even if it's just a matter of being more intentional about how you use your personal Facebook presence.
  3. There's an increasing body of scientific research showing the effects that stories have on the brain, which helps to explain what we've always known: Stories are essential to the human experience. They affect us deeply.
  4. In our hyper-mediated world, stories help us reach through the noise. Stories = influence, and stories = connection. Stories spread through networks, and they spread exponentially farther, faster through digital networks. Ergo, digital storytelling is a new form of literacy.
  5. The process for telling stories online is dynamic and cyclical: Plan your story, choose your platforms and tools, create content, and then monitor its reception and refine as needed. Rinse, repeat.
  6. Remember, you are not broadcasting: This is interactive media. Listen to how people respond to what you share, and engage with them — this is part of the storytelling process.
  7. Use your powers for to spread the good.